Thursday, November 20, 2014

Walk to Defeat ALS "Race Report"

To date, Team Drea has raised:

$11,959.64 for the Blazeman Foundation 
$2,887.90 for the ALS Association
$14,847.54 dedicated to finding a cure for ALS and caring for those with it.

Thank you.


I'm learning that it takes me a while to get these blog posts out.  Partly, I do a lot of editing to make sure  it's really what I want to say, but also I am trying to keep the rest of life going, visit with family and friends as much as possible, and DP and I have embarked on what I'm calling The Grim List 2014: wills, disability benefits, handicapped tags, remodeling estimates, etc. etc. so we can start fresh in 2015.  Fun stuff ahead and I just don't want the worries and what-ifs hanging over us.

Anyway, sorry for the delay…not a reflection on how awesome the day was!! :)

The Walk

….was COLD: low 40s, grey skies, and 18mph sustained winds put the windchill in the 30s.  Still, we had 45 people show up.  Troopers, all of you!

It was kind of like a wedding -- family and friends from so many parts of our lives: our parents, DP's brother, sister and her kids, his aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandma from his dad's side, friends of mine from childhood, high school and grad school, friends of ours from college, triathlon friends, work friends.  So everyone knew someone, but not very many someones.  It was great for us to see everyone meeting and getting to know one another.

The walk was literally on the paths around the Washington Monument grounds.  I opted for my trike so I wouldn't have to worry about falling, walking too slowly, or not being able to visit with everyone.  We went around twice and that was enough for ME (the troopers would have kept going, I'm sure).

Thanks to Betsy (^ bottom right) for the photos!

Then we descended on our seemingly-little-but-infinitely-expandable house.  We had almost 40 people over for a feast catered by Urban BBQ.  We thawed out over coffee and hot cider as we ate and talked...and ate and talked…

Afterwards, my parents, Julie, Carrie (who were staying with us), DP and I all took like 3 hour naps.  SO awesome.

The shirt

DP's amazingly talented brother created the new Team Drea shirt design with NO input from anyone.  He just designed it and showed us the finished product -- it was so perfect, it brought tears to my eyes.

Here's what the letters stand for:

T: "Be brave" is what I wrote on my arm before the 70.3.  The Cape Lookout lighthouse is near my family's beach cottage on Harkers Island, NC.

E: My decoy collection, running and triathlon medals, my french horn, books with a "179" peaking out.

A: Pool where I spent so many hours training.

M: Rowing shell and oars representing my time as a coxswain in college (for DP's boat…and yet, somehow we survived as a couple...), my little Nissan Frontier pickup, and my first car: a 1962 VW Karmann Ghia.

D: A spatially-acurate campus map of Davidson College where DP and I met.

R: Lizzie reigning supreme on her cat tower.

E: The Lucky Strike tower at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, NC where we were married, our house, and the Washington Monument where the walk was (and we could see from our old Chinatown apartment).

A: Ha, my embarrassing shoebox filing system for all cards, photos, and other stuff I want to keep.  Organized by year though!

The front just says 179, which as you undoubtedly know by now, is my lucky number and Jon Blais's bib number at Kona.

So many people who weren't able to be at the walk have asked for shirts that I am trying to set it up as a mini-fundraiser on  Send me a message if you think you might want one so I can figure out the minimum to pre-order.

Why this Walk?

Of course, a big reason for this walk was continued fundraising for ALS.  Many people I know through ALS connections have kind of a love-hate perspective on the ALS Association.  This deserves its own blog post, which maybe I'll write some day, but suffice it for now to say that it is partly because ALSA devotes a majority of its resources to activities other than finding a cure.  As someone with ALS who is currently benefitting from their services, I am thankful for what the local DC/MD/VA chapter does and this walk is their main annual fundraiser.  We learned this week that in the recession, the chapter's reserve funds dropped to like $200,000 -- to put that in perspective, that is comparable to what it can cost to care for one ALS patient for one year.  
So thank you -- if you donated to ALSA, your money will go to help someone in this region, like me.  If you donated to the Blazeman Foundation, you know how much it means to me personally to contribute to the research to find a cure for this horrible disease so others never have to go through it.

Something that DP and I talked about as we drove home was that the walk took on a new meaning for him.  When we initially made plans to do the walk back in August, he envisioned the event as  a goal for us, a way to show the world that I was just as ready as ever to take on a physical challenge and have fun with it.

But by making it through the Ramblin' Rose triathlon, I proved what I set out to prove.   He said he realized that this event wasn't as much a message from me as it was a way for others to communicate their love and support -- which we soaked up sponge-style because we need it.   And for all of us to realize how far this disease reaches beyond the people afflicted with it.  Surrounded by that common camaraderie, the walk took on a spirit and meaning all its own.

It made me proud to be an American.  So much of our collective attention and energy is wasted on divisive politics, over-the-top consumerism, the Kardashians…this felt like the most natural form of patriotism on display at one of the most sacred spaces in our country.  Because Americans come together in times of need, support our friends, family and neighbors, and generously give of ourselves to help one another.  That is real America.